401 S.E.2d 157 (S.C. 1991), 23337, Tiffault v. Tiffault

Docket Nº:23337.
Citation:401 S.E.2d 157, 303 S.C. 391
Opinion Judge:GREGORY, Chief Justice:
Party Name:Marilyn F. TIFFAULT, Respondent, v. Raymond J. TIFFAULT, Jr., Petitioner.
Attorney:John O. McDougall, of Weinberg, Brown & McDougall, Sumter, for respondent. W. Jeffrey Young, of Young & Young, Sumter, for petitioner.
Case Date:February 04, 1991
Court:Supreme Court of South Carolina
 
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401 S.E.2d 157 (S.C. 1991)

303 S.C. 391

Marilyn F. TIFFAULT, Respondent,

v.

Raymond J. TIFFAULT, Jr., Petitioner.

No. 23337.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

February 4, 1991

Heard Nov. 27, 1990.

John O. McDougall, of Weinberg, Brown & McDougall, Sumter, for respondent.

W. Jeffrey Young, of Young & Young, Sumter, for petitioner.

GREGORY, Chief Justice:

This domestic action is before us on a writ of certiorari to review the memorandum decision of the Court of Appeals holding vested military retirement benefits are subject to equitable division. In reaching its decision, the Court of Appeals relied on Martin v. Martin, 296 S.C. 436, 373 S.E.2d 706 (Ct.App.1988). We affirm.

In Bugg v. Bugg, 277 S.C. 270, 286 S.E.2d 135 (1982), and Carter v. Carter, 277 S.C. 277, 286 S.E.2d 139 (1982), this Court recognized that military retirement benefits were not marital property as mandated by the United States Supreme Court in McCarty v. McCarty, 453 U.S. 210, 101 S.Ct. 2728, 69 L.Ed.2d 589 (1981). By subsequent legislative enactment,[303 S.C. 392] however, Congress effectively overruled McCarty and returned to the state courts the determination whether such benefits should be considered marital property. This Court again considered the issue and reaffirmed in Brown v. Brown, 279 S.C. 116, 302 S.E.2d 860 (1983), that military retirement benefits would not be treated as marital property. In Brown, we specifically held such benefits would be treated "as income and not as marital property." Id. at 118, 302 S.E.2d at 861.

Subsequently in Martin, the Court of Appeals decided contrary to our holding in Brown that military retirement benefits are marital property subject to equitable distribution. It found Brown inapplicable because the Equitable Apportionment of Marital Property Act (EAMPA) was enacted after our decision in Brown. Under EAMPA, marital property is statutorily defined as "all real and personal property which has been acquired by the parties during the marriage ... regardless of how legal title is held." S.C.Code Ann.

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§ 20-7-473 (Supp.1989). 1 The statute then lists five specific exceptions for certain categories of property, such as that acquired by inheritance or subject to certain antenuptial agreements. In Martin, the Court of Appeals concluded the EAMPA definition of marital property includes military retirement benefits simply because they...

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